New Mexico vs Boise State
Wed. March 6. 7pm
The last home game of the 2018-19 season is here and with that also comes Senior Night. Anthony Mathis and Dane Kuiper will suit up for what is likely their last time at the Pit to take on the Boise State Broncos.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Broncos and Lobos are both tied for eighth place in the Mountain West standings with 6-10 conference records. With one week before the tournament, only the UNLV Rebels know they are locked in as the No. 5 seed. New Mexico could finish anywhere from No. 6-9. Since Boise State can also still reach the No. 6 spot, Wednesday’s game will be a big one for both programs.
Boise State is on a five-game losing streak. Two of those losses happened in overtime, including their latest fall to UNLV on March 2 with an 85-81 final score. What made it tougher to swallow was that Boise State had a 14-point lead. This game was played in Las Vegas, which is consistent with how the Broncos have been doing on the road this season. They are 3-9 when playing away from home.
— Boise State MBB (@BroncoSportsMBB) March 3, 2019
New Mexico has managed to stay on the winning side at 8-7 when playing at home. Sure that doesn’t represent home advantage at its greatest, but the Lobos did pull their 85-58 upset against the then No. 5/6 Nevada in Albuquerque.
The Broncos are 1-8 this season in games that have been decided by one possession or in overtime. The team not only wants to win for a higher seed, but also because the Broncos are close to matching the school’s record for most losses (1980-81, 7-19).
The Lobos snapped a three-game losing skid with a 77-65 win on Saturday against Colorado State. New Mexico out rebounded the Rams 47-25 and Makuach Maluach led the team with a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Interestingly enough, the two players that will be honored after Wednesday’s game met each other way before their time at UNM. They played each other in sixth grade and have developed a good relationship throughout their college careers.
“He’s an amazing person, an amazing teammate, amazing roommate. All-around great person. It’s been a really fun experience to know him since sixth grade,” Kuiper said about Mathis. “Our first trip here together we were like ‘oh hey, don’t I know you?’ It’s grown into a really good friendship.”
Senior night will be a bittersweet experience, but both have memories and lessons learned that will help them for their lives after college.
One of Mathis’ roommates is freshman Tavian Percy, who the senior sees as a younger brother. When asked to reflect on what it was like to be in his final year while also mentoring a freshman, Mathis got a chance to talk about what he has learned throughout his college career.
“It’s funny, he reminds me of myself so much,” Mathis said. “I wish I could just tell him to just enjoy the process. Everything that has happened to me happened for a reason. It’s hard to realize that when you are in that position. You want everything to come so quick, overnight. It’s not like that.”
For senior night, the 6’3″ guard said he wants to keep his goals simple: get a win and enjoy everything.
Click here for Mathis’ feature story at the beginning of the season.
For Kuiper, basketball has had lessons that are as important off the court as they are on the court.
“It’s been teaching me about commitment,” said the 6’7″ Alaska native. “Staying with things, finishing things all the way through. It was like, I could’ve left here but I was going to stay and finish it. It helped with my school, personal life, everything.”
Kuiper has knee tendinitis which has caused him to miss a couple games this season. He’s had other injuries as well, but the senior has pushed through it all to help his teammates on the court. Last week he said he wasn’t 100 percent healthy but that he felt good enough to finish the rest of the year. He played against the Rams on Saturday, and while he missed the two shots he took, head coach Paul Weir said Kuiper was probably the best defender on the team.
Click here for Kuiper’s feature story.